Breast ultrasound is a medical imaging test that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the internal structures of the breast. It is a non-invasive and painless procedure that is commonly used to examine breast tissue for any abnormalities, such as lumps or masses.
Breast ultrasound is often used as a complementary test to mammography, which is the most common screening tool for breast cancer. While mammography uses X-rays to produce images of the breast, ultrasound uses sound waves, making it particularly useful for detecting abnormalities in dense breast tissue or in women who are pregnant or have breast implants.
There are several reasons why a breast ultrasound may be recommended by a healthcare provider. The most common reasons include:
Detection of breast lumps or masses: A breast ultrasound may be recommended if a lump or mass is detected during a breast exam or mammogram. Ultrasound can help determine if the mass is solid or fluid-filled, which can help guide further testing or treatment.
Breast pain or tenderness: If a woman experiences breast pain or tenderness, a breast ultrasound may be recommended to help identify the cause of the symptoms, such as an infection or a cyst.
Monitoring of known breast abnormalities: If a woman has previously been diagnosed with a breast abnormality, such as a cyst or fibroadenoma, a breast ultrasound may be recommended to monitor changes in the abnormality over time.
Breast cancer screening in high-risk women: In women who are at high risk for breast cancer due to family history or other factors, a breast ultrasound may be recommended in addition to mammography to increase the likelihood of detecting early signs of cancer.
During a breast ultrasound, a healthcare provider will apply a gel to the skin of the breast and use a handheld device called a transducer to transmit sound waves through the breast tissue. The sound waves bounce off the internal structures of the breast and create images that can be viewed on a computer screen.
While a breast ultrasound is generally considered safe and non-invasive, it is important to note that it is not always conclusive. In some cases, further testing, such as a biopsy or additional imaging, may be necessary to make a definitive diagnosis.
In conclusion, breast ultrasound is a useful diagnostic tool for evaluating breast abnormalities and detecting early signs of breast cancer. It is often used in conjunction with mammography and other tests to provide a comprehensive evaluation of breast health. If you have concerns about breast health, speak with your healthcare provider to determine if a breast ultrasound is an appropriate option for you.